Tina Hunt’s Grand Opening in Corona
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A champion for the youth in the City of Corona, TV
producer and new gym owner Tina Hunt recently hosted a boxing extravaganza at the Today’s Youth Boxing & Recreation Center in Corona, Calif.
Calling on some heavy hitters she’s met during her career in the fight game and entertainment biz, Tina had a pound for pound lineup of champions attending the Grand Opening festivities held on the sprawling grounds of the historic Corona Civic Center. Leon Spinks, Henry Tillman, Lamon Brewster, James Toney, Paul Gonzales, Chris Sande and Bobby Chacon all came out in support of the nonprofit organization created by President Hunt.
With kids from Today’s Youth Boxing Club anxiously awaiting the ribbon cutting ceremony, the night got underway with the champs, city officials and special guests. As the large crowd made their way into the second venue, there were refreshments, prize raffle, auction, and more waiting for the guests.
Tina introduced the sluggers, who took part in a lively Q&A session with the crowd, posed for photos and signed autographs at Today’s Youth 1st Annual “Meet & Greet with the Champs.” There was also an unveiling of a Ken Norton tribute piece with Spinks taking the “Oath of Adoption” for the club in proxy for the ill Norton, who could not attend.
A nice touch I witnessed during the night took place when Hunt (President of Today’s Youth Organization) called up all the young children who have benefited from the nonprofit, which offers sports programs to empower the children. The “Fab 4″ boxing squad from the Corona gym also got to meet the heavyweights and Olympic boxers, who gave them words of encouragement and support. The kids I met were great–and grateful–for the outpouring of people that joined the gathering. Many of the boys and girls told me how much they love boxing and the skills they learn while training. And the troops supported their club by serving food and drinks to the patrons. I also toured the boxing gym with Tina’s husband, Don Hunt; the kids are all excited to have their club remain on the premises as Tina had to fight for the right to keep the doors open.
The fighters said they were inspired by the kids and enjoyed meeting the fans at the gala. Also joining the prizefighters were pro MMA fighter Jose “El Pollo” Hernandez and Thompson Boxing Promotions’ Vera Thompson (wife of California Boxing Hall of Fame promoter Ken Thompson).
The night was a success for all the fans who came out to rub elbows with the celebrity guests at this fundraiser. Boxing gloves and other memorabilia were raffled off by Jenna, Araceli and Alyssa, a trio of ladies volunteering their time to help. The champs also commented that they wanted to be there in support of at-risk or underprivileged kids whose lives are enhanced at the youth center. Former WBC champ Leon Spinks and his wife Brenda came from Las Vegas to attend and support Hunt’s organization.
And Hunt is already planning the 2nd Annual “Meet & Greet” for 2013.
She will also be presenting a “Showcase Extravaganza” featuring Today’s Youth young fighters along with pro wrestlers at their event coming up on November 30. Always striving for more ways to help the children, I caught up with Tina Hunt today to get her thoughts on the grand opening and to hear about future plans with Today’s Youth.
“I was really pleased to have heavyweight champions Leon Spinks, Henry Tillman, Paul Gonzales, Lamon Brewster, James Toney, Chris Sande and Bobby Chacon attend Today’s Youth Boxing Club’s “Meet and Greet” event. I have been friends with most of these boxing greats for quite some time and they all share my heart for the youth and especially the inner-city and low-income children,” she tells me. “I was especially pleased that Leon Spinks attended the event even though he had just returned from a long road trip earlier that morning.”
Leon and Brenda drove cross country back to Las Vegas, only to have to gear up again to attend the California bash. But this was a sacrifice the couple wanted to make in honor of Tina’s youth center (www.todaysyouthboxing.org). Many of the boxers rearranged plans to be there in person.
“Lamon Brewster and his wife had confirmed their attendance for another event but he felt that it was important that he support our club with his presence,” Hunt explains. “And Paul Gonzales had a meeting downtown L.A. but because of his commitment to helping me with the club, he left early to avoid any traffic and arrive on time. Most of these champs had other obligations and commitments and it just shows their dedication to helping the youth and their willingness to share their stories of how they themselves overcame some adverse circumstances to be where they are today!”
The event was well attended; the venue was packed with wall to wall bodies pressing to meet the athletes.
“We had a great turnout and it was priceless seeing so many young admirers meet and greet their heroes,” Tina adds. “I was so pleased that I had collected questions in advance from the youth and all of the champs got a chance to address the audience too.”
Other luminaries in attendance were Superior Court Judge Richard Fields, Corona Chamber of Commerce and its President Bobby Spiegel, former mayor Karen Spiegel and Supervisor John Tavaglione, along with several city officials, business leaders and many community residents in the standing-room only building.
Giving back to the community, Tina will continue her crusade to empower the lives of the kids. Her mission statement sums up her thoughts of why she puts in countless hours to help the impoverished children and teens: “The Today’s Youth Boxing Club key existence is to provide a safe haven for our youth while teaching them self-discipline, commitment, respect and good work ethics in a safe and structured environment.”
She admits there was plenty of blood, sweat and tears–hard work and elbow grease put into making the night a success. Learning from the inaugural event, the producer vows to keep the momentum going. Hunt is seeing the hard work pay off and is willing to continue fighting for the youth–and she’s already looking forward to next year’s installment. “This ‘Meet & Greet’ will be an annual event,” the businesswoman says. “We will bring the celebrities again next year. And next year it’s gonna be even bigger!”
Check out my EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS from the 1st Annual “Meet & Greet” with the Champs and Today’s Youth Boxing Club!
Photos by Michele Chong
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